Spencer writes in the library, part 8: Launchy colors


This episode of Spencer Writes in the Library took place on Monday, August 4 around 10:30am

The Spot

Where am I working today?

On the far east part of the second floor, right next to an impressive collection of books on monasteries.

What’s a perk of this spot?

I have a thing about working with my back to other people. It doesn’t really bother me that much, but if I can avoid it, I certainly will. This is the first spot I’ve found in the library where I can work at a desk and have my back to the wall instead of to someone else, and that’s kind of nice.

What’s a problem with this spot?

Working with my back to a wall is nice, but it’s not what I was hoping for today. I was actually on the hunt for somewhere on the second floor that had windows and a nice view of what’s outside the library. No luck today: There are a few windows here where I am, but all they look out at is, well, the next window two feet away. Maybe I’ll find a more scenic spot next time I’m here.

What have I learned in this spot?


There are signs all over the library warning that you shouldn’t leave your things unattended, so if I need to stretch my legs or get some water, I typically pack everything up and take it with me. The area where I’m working is kind of non-descript, so I was a little worried about getting back to the same spot when I took a break about midway through the morning. However, I remembered that there are color lines spread throughout the library – these are to help you find different sections of the floor that you’re on, but it turns out that they’re also helpful for finding one’s way back to a particular work spot! Plus, they remind me of one of the features of Battle School in the novel Ender’s Game, and that makes me pretty happy.

How would I rate this spot?

3 out of 5 dentists. (Why dentists?)

The Work

What am I working on today?

This summer, I’ve been taking an independent study course on moral and civic education, which I’ve really enjoyed. My final project for the course is a grant proposal, and I’m hoping to use the work I do for the proposal next semester as I lay the foundations for my second year practicum project. So, today I’ve been poring over a few different NEH and NSF grants that the work I’m interested in could conceivably fall under.

What’s the highlight from today’s work?

Once I found a grant that I could potentially apply for (at this point, everything is completely hypothetical), I spent some time going through the NSF’s Grant Proposal Guide to figure out what exactly I need to be writing. Let me share three major elements that I will probably be using to structure my outline:

  • objectives and expected significance of the work
  • relation to my longer-term goals as a researcher
  • relation to established research and current work in the field

These seem like elements that have been present in the different proposals that I’ve written for classes, so I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble with it, but it’s still a good reminder of what’s important when proposing research!

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